Wellsville and Salamanca

Last week I hopped on the Bumblebeemer and took a long ride to the Southwestern corner of NY State. One of the places I stopped was Wellsville where, as the name suggests, oil was discovered. Most if not all of those old wells have either gone dry or become to expensive to maintain. This old pump was visible from the road and was apparently part of a system of wells and pumps long since abandoned.

Driven by Tom Maszerowski on 500px.com

Bearing by Tom Maszerowski on 500px.com

Pump by Tom Maszerowski on 500px.com

Further down the road is Salamanca. It’s an odd place as the city is entirely on the Allegany Reservation of the Seneca nation. As a result, the Senecas own the land and homeowners lease the property. It’s been controversial and has scared a lot of people and businesses away. Salamanca was a major rail hub at one point but that has long since lost its importance. These are some of the remnants of its rail yard (along with a museum).

Towers by Tom Maszerowski on 500px.com

Falling Concrete by Tom Maszerowski on 500px.com

Bent by Tom Maszerowski on 500px.com

Google Maps shows that there was a large roundhouse and turntable in the yard at one time so I’m going back to check that out sometime.

Microsoft releases Checked C

The C programming language has been around since the 1970s and it’s been used to create a incredible amount of software. It’s guaranteed to be part of the software you’re using to view this regardless of what you’re using to view it with. But C has some serious drawbacks in that it’s incredibly easy to make serious mistakes that don’t seem obvious until the software is running (and possibly not all time).

But there are follow-on languages that build on C but add features that make some of these errors obvious. Microsoft has one called C# and it’s available for Windows developers to use as part of their Visual Studio developer environment. But lots of programmers, especially those working on open source, are still using regular old C. Recently, Microsoft Research developed Checked C which adds many of the features of C# into C without significantly changing how programmers work or requiring older code to be rewritten. They’ve released it as an open source project for use on Windows and Linux systems and welcome fixes and improvements.

In case you wonder why this is a big deal you need to know that much of the software running on the Internet is programmed in C and many of the security vulnerabilities that have been found and exploited arose from the kind of mistakes that C overlooks. Widespread use of something like Checked C could make a significant improvement in security for everyone.

How LinkedIn failed

How LinkedIn failed is a pretty good look into how the professional social network grew and evolved into something most people find annoying rather than useful.

For most professionals LinkedIn is something you have to be on but like a suit it’s not something you need very often. I really don’t know how Microsoft is going to change that even with their plans to integrate it into Office 365. But I’ll keep my profile, just like everyone else.

Tracking Down August Belmont Jr.’s Private NYC Subway Car, The Mineola

August Belmont Jr. founded the Interborough Rapid Transit subway line in NYC which became the IRT line and built the horse racing track which bears his name. As you’d pretty much expect, he had his own custom-built subway car that he used to travel to and from the track. When he died in 1924 it went out of use and has been moved around and stored in multiple places. In 2001 the NY Times reported that it still existed and was being kept at a trolley museum in Connecticut. Recently, Untapped Cities confirmed it was still there and was able to photograph the interior.

Why You Can’t Get a Ticket (to pretty much anything)

I tried to get tickets to Bruce Springsteen’s February show as a Christmas gift for my wife. Even though I hit Ticketmaster’s site on time, I could never get in and they sold out in minutes. Turns out I never even had a chance, at least not at listed price. It’s the same everywhere.